Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Lemon Layer Cake with added 'Star Quality'!
I always thought that being in your late thirties precluded you from having a birthday cake, not least because the amount of candles required would constitute a fire hazard, but in the eyes of Finn at least, having a birthday means that a birthday cake is necessary. A birthday isn't a birthday without cake. And I suppose he's right. So, the passing of Phill's birthday had to be marked with a cake and I opted for a version of the Magnolia Bakery lemon layer cake with lemon frosting and lemon curd. It has to be said we are partial to the odd lemon or two chez Lola and Finn.
I tweaked the recipe from the original by firstly using all plain flour instead of half self-raising flour, and added two and a half teaspoons of baking powder to ensure sufficient 'rise'. I think I would play safe though and use both types of flour if you have them. I did feel that I was taking a risk. I used the juice and rind of two lemons for lovely lemonliness, and instead of sandwiching the layers with frosting, I used lemon curd instead. And, yes, it was out of a jar...
I am a bit odd when it comes to frosting. I don't necessarily want something that is too tooth achingly sweet and so I left out two of the cups of icing sugar used to make the frosting. My advice to you would be to add icing sugar, beat it in sufficiently and then taste to see what you like. The recipe calls for eight cup measurements but six was more than enough for my palate at least. Add a splosh of milk when (or if) you think the icing is too thick, but be judicious. You want something that is slack enough to spread but with enough consistency to stay put where you need it to stay put. Not unsurprisingly, I upped the lemon content. I added the juice and rind of one lemon to the icing mixture and it was glorious.
The stars? Well. Not compulsory obviously. But I had yellow sugar paste and it seemed like a good idea at the time....
Lemon Layer Cake adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
(Note: American recipe so uses cup measurements. They're brilliantly easy!)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature.
1-1/2 cup self-raising flour
1-1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup milk
Juice and zest of two average size lemons
For the frosting:
1 cup of butter at room temperature
6 cups of icing sugar
juice and rind of one average sized lemon
A splosh of milk (where necessary)
To join the layers:
Half a jar of good quality lemon curd.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease and lightly flour three 9"x2" round cake tins; line the bottoms with waxed or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well after each egg is added.
Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the lemon juice and zest, beating well after each addition. I always try to end with the flour and mix the last of the flour in by hand to try to prevent overworking the flour.
Divide the cake batter among the cake pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes.
Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
In the meantime, make the frosting. Beat the butter with an electric mixture to loosed the butter up a little, then add a cup of icing sugar, beating thoroughly after each cupful. Initially the mixture will be very dry and you may need to add the odd splosh of milk to loosen the mixture to allow more icing sugar to be added. Once you are happy with the taste of the icing, add the juice and rind and beat the mixture thoroughly until the icing is light, fluffy and holding its shape.
When the layers have cooled, spread the lemon curd evenly between the layers and then spread the frosting over the top and the sides of the cake. Decorate as desired